NAIROBI (TrustLaw) – A Kenyan innovator has won a $250,000 grant for a pilot project aimed at using mobile phone-based money transfer services to help more women to give birth in hospital and cut maternal death rates, Business Daily reported on Thursday.
Women will receive electronic vouchers through their mobile phones after they – or well-wishers – have loaded credit onto their mobile phones to help pay the costs of medical care.
An insurance company will then issue the woman with an outpatient Smart Card, enabling her to receive health care at a discount.
Half of women in Kenya give birth without the support of a skilled professional, and many die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth. Kenya’s maternal mortality rate is 452 per 100,000 live births.
“Research has shown that lack of adequate care is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the developing world,” the report quoted Sam Agutu, chief executive of Changamaka Microhealth, the insurance company behind the scheme, as saying.
Mobile phoned-based services are the main way of transferring small cash amounts in Kenya, mainly because users do not need to have a bank account.
Account holders buy electronic funds from an agent and then send money to any mobile phone user in the country, who can redeem it for conventional cash.
(Editing by Alex Whiting)